Erica Findlay, granddaughter of Commander Henry Ritchie VC, at the Scotland Office in Edinburgh with the Advocate General, Lord Wallace (Photo: courtesy of the Scotland Office/UK Government)

Appeal finds family of Royal Navy's first Great War Victoria Cross winner

Posted on on 24 February 2015
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A public appeal in the UK has successfully traced descendants of the first member of the Royal Navy to receive the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

Commander Henry Ritchie's granddaughter, Erica Findlay, came forward to see the commemorative stone recently unveiled at his birthplace in Edinburgh.

The building,1 Melville Crescent, is now the home of the UK Government's Scotland Office. 

Mrs Findlay answered an appeal for information about Commander Ritchie's family which accompanied the remembrance in November 2014 of his bravery under fire 100 years ago.

But the whereabouts of his Victoria Cross are still a mystery.

(Photo: courtesy of Scotland Office/UK Government)

Henry Peel Ritchie was awarded the VC for his actions on November 28th 1914 while leading search and demolition operations on the port of Dar-es-Salaam in German East Africa (now Tanzania) 

The citation read: "Though severely wounded several times his fortitude and resolution enabled him to continue to do his duty, inspiring all by his example until at his eighth wound he became unconscious."

King George V presented him with his Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry, at Buckingham Palace in April 1915.

Although much was known of Commander Ritchie's wartime heroism, the last trace of his family tree was lost when he died in 1958 at his home on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

Erica Findlay, daughter of the naval officer's eldest daughter, came forward following the appeal for information in the autumn.

Accompanied by members of her family, she visited the Scotland Office on February 16th 2015 to see her grandfather's memorial stone.

Mrs Findlay was met by the Advocate General, Lord Wallace, a senior law officer. A Royal Navy guard of honour was present as she received a commemorative scroll from Captain Chris McGinley.

The quest continues for Commander Henry Ritchie's Victoria Cross. The Scotland Office asks if you can help.

Information & images supplied by the Scotland Office/UK Government

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News